Tag Archive | Military Enlightenment

Third Snow(Mon)day in row

New books:

Osman, Julia. Citizen Soldiers and the Key to the Bastille. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
The French army experienced rapid and dramatic change from the 1750s to 1789—and it took the rest of the country with it. Wracked from defeat in the Seven Years’ War, where Amerindian warriors and rugged Canadian militiamen had shown the French army its weaknesses, French officers and philosophers set to work imagining and forging a new kind of army in France: a citizen army, the likes of which had not been seen since the glory days of ancient Greece and Rome. These writers found encouragement for their ideas in the home-grown patriots of the American Revolution and resistance from those who relied on tradition and well-ingrained privilege. By 1789, French officers would declare their citizen army realized, but in the process they would spark a Revolution they could not control.
I think that David Bien guy just may have started something (Interpreting the Ancien Régime collects his major works together in one place).
And then there is this book, which does go back into the Ancien Régime:
Morrissey, Robert. The Economy of Glory: From Ancien Régime France to the Fall of Napoleon. Translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan. Chicago; London: University Of Chicago Press, 2013.
From the outset of Napoleon’s career, the charismatic Corsican was compared to mythic heroes of antiquity like Achilles, and even today he remains the apotheosis of French glory, a value deeply embedded in the country’s history. From this angle, the Napoleonic era can be viewed as the final chapter in the battle of the Ancients and Moderns. In this book, Robert Morrissey presents a literary and cultural history of glory and its development in France and explores the “economy of glory” Napoleon sought to implement in an attempt to heal the divide between the Old Regime and the Revolution. Examining how Napoleon saw glory as a means of escaping the impasse of Revolutionary ideas of radical egalitarianism, Morrissey illustrates the challenge the leader faced in reconciling the antagonistic values of virtue and self-interest, heroism and equality. He reveals that the economy of glory was both egalitarian, creating the possibility of an aristocracy based on merit rather than wealth, and traditional, being deeply embedded in the history of aristocratic chivalry and the monarchy—making it the heart of Napoleon’s politics of fusion. Going beyond Napoleon, Morrissey considers how figures of French romanticism such as Chateaubriand, Balzac, and Hugo constantly reevaluated this legacy of glory and its consequences for modernity. Available for the first time in English, The Economy of Glory is a sophisticated and beautifully written addition to French history.
Anybody else notice how we early modern Europeanists are now paying $90-$100 for books that barely have 200 pages of text?
Makes me want to revise my Ostwald Index: in addition to calculating the ratio of (number of pages)/(years covered) and the well-known (number of pages)/(book price), we should also calculate the ratio of (book price)/(years covered). Just when we now have access to all these sources, we’re unable to put them in our books. <Sigh>

Now you see the problem

Just got my login info for the e-version of the latest Journal of Military History, and skimmed through the early modern section of its Recent Journal Articles. This type of resource used to be critical in the pre-digital age – every journal seemed to have its own listing of recently published works. Before online databases and the Internets, you were pretty much limited to the journals your library subscribed to, the good ol’ Historical Abstracts, a few rare bibliographic journals (remember that War and Society newsletter Militärgeschichtliche Mitteilungen used to publish?), any citation indexes you could get your hands on, and of course pillaging the citations of the latest articles and books. Maybe you even traded citations within your scholarly network. OK, so maybe it’s not that different today.

But even back then, looking through the Recent Articles section, you’d notice how haphazard the selections were – some journals that you knew of weren’t included, others were included one year and not the next, and undoubtedly they’d list some new article in a journal you’d never think to explore, or even heard of before. All this serves not only to remind us that there are extremely few journals that specialize in EMEMH, that there is no central “go-to” source, but it also serves as a way to introduce an article of interest in a journal that’s really not been on my radar screen:

Buchan, Bruce. “Pandours, Partisans, and Petite Guerre: The Two Dimensions of Enlightenment Discourse on War.” Intellectual History Review 23, no. 3 (September 2013): 329–347.
During the Enlightenment period a certain notion of war came to prominence in European thought. This notion, which I here refer to as ‘civilized war’, centred on the idea that European war-making in the eighteenth century was characterised by humanity and honour. This image of European war-making was sustained by a variety of intellectuals and even some military practitioners who reflected not only on the practice of war in Europe in this period, but on the practice of war among supposedly less ‘civilised’ peoples in other parts of the world and in Europe’s barbaric past. In these other places, among other peoples, and at other times, warfare was characterised as altogether less ‘civilised’, less ordered, less humane and honourable, and was thus considered more ‘savage’. I will argue in this paper, however, that there were at least two dimensions to the Enlightenment discourse on civilised war: the first dimension stressed the moral qualities of civilised war, its honour and humanity above all; the second dimension emphasised its technical or rational qualities that gave European war-makers a decisive military advantage over non-European war-makers. These two dimensions applied to conventional or symmetrical war between sovereign militaries contending by massed fire power on the field of battle. They were less easily applicable to petite guerre, that is, unconventional, asymmetric or partisan war. Here, the two dimensions of the idea of civilised war were shadowed by persistent anxieties about the status of both dimensions of civilised war.
But wait, there’s more: nowadays the web allows us to descend further into the rabbit hole. Googling such articles tends to send you to the author’s homepage, which often mentions other articles of note. To wit:
Buchan, B. “Civilized Fictions: Warfare and Civilization in Enlightenment Thought.” Alternatives: Global, Local, Political 36, no. 1 (February 1, 2011): 64–71.
In range of recent articles, Barry Hindess has explored the intellectual foundations of European perceptions of other peoples as different from and in need of European models of government and society. In particular, he has focused on the European “conceit” of superior, more rapid, and more sophisticated historical development or civilization. In this article, I will take up Hindess’ view of European civilization as a conceit, and explore its deployment in relation to the influential idea of civilized war in Enlightenment political thought. In particular, I will trace the articulation of this conceit in Voltaire’s account of the battle of Fontenoy on May 11, 1745. I will argue that Voltaire’s account of the battle shows that the European notion of civilized war was not only a conceit but a fiction.
Another article of interest illustrates yet another complication. I’ll let you identify the problem:
Green-Mercado, Marya T. “The Mahdī in Valencia: Messianism, Apocalypticism and Morisco Rebellions in Late Sixteenth-Century Spain.” Medieval Encounters 19, no. 1–2 (January 1, 2013): 193–220. doi:10.1163/15700674-12342129.
Prophecies and apocalyptic prognostications circulated widely among the Moriscos—forcedly baptized Muslims in sixteenth-century Iberia. Messianism, however, is a phenomenon which had hitherto never been attested in traditional sources of Morisco history. This article studies the interrelated phenomena of apocalypticism and messianism among the Moriscos of the Crown of Aragon in the second half of the sixteenth century. Through a case study of a 1575 inquisitorial transcript, it analyzes an obscure messianic figure named Abrahim Fatimí, who was accused of attempting to lead the kingdom to rebellion, casting himself as the expected deliverer of Morisco tradition, el moro Alfatimí. The discovery of this case sheds light on the political and social implications of apocalyptic and messianic ideas among Moriscos in the late sixteenth century.
The problem? Those damn medievalists squatting on early modern land! A journal with a title like Medieval Encounters is pretty far down my list, but this article would fit nicely in my Religion, War and Peace course. Ever vigilant!
Venturing to that journal’s website pulls up other possible articles of note:
Coleman, David. “Of Corsairs, Converts and Renegades: Forms and Functions of Coastal Raiding on Both Sides of the Far Western Mediterranean, 1490-1540.” Medieval Encounters 19, no. 1–2 (January 1, 2013): 167–192.
Historians have long debated whether or not the cultures of the Mediterranean constitute a singular unit of geo-historical analysis. The Alborán Sea—the Mediterranean’s far western corner that narrowly separates the Iberian Peninsula from Africa’s northwestern shore—has long been an important “frontier” zone in which arguments for and against Mediterranean unity are put to the test. This essay contends that endemic practices of corsair activity and coastal raiding played analogous functions on both sides of this “frontier” in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. While the fact of systematized conflict in the form of raids lends some support to the notion of an enduring “clash of civilizations,” the parallel forms and functions of such raiding within the societies from which the corsairs came argue at least as persuasively for a significant degree of fundamental similarity and continuity. The Alborán corsairs along both coasts, for instance, typically received patronage and organizational aid from local and regional elites, and their raiding activities proved central to both economies. On both sides of the frontier, moreover, the world of the corsairs allowed a surprising degree of mobility and participation to converts and renegades of Muslim, Jewish and Christian origin alike.
And for those who need to be reminded that the British Empire existed in the 18C as well as the 19C, we have:
Muller, Hannah Weiss. “The Garrison Revisited: Gibraltar in the Eighteenth Century.” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 41, no. 3 (2013): 353–376.
In the 1940s, scholars across a variety of disciplines started using phrases such as ‘garrison state’ and ‘garrison mentality’ to describe societies where military imperatives predominated. They frequently argued that a perpetual sense of threat and a profound feeling of isolation shaped the outlook of residents in these communities. Such terms continue to surface in contemporary scholarship and popular media, where ‘the garrison’ often remains a stock image. Evidence from eighteenth-century Gibraltar, however, suggests that traditional readings of the garrison as an insulated fortress should be reconsidered. The survival of this strategic outpost actually required that colonial administrators rely on an array of foreigners to keep it supplied during times of both war and peace. At Gibraltar, the garrison was neither isolated from its surrounding environment nor perpetually threatened by its cosmopolitan residents—instead, inescapable dependence on a motley local population often rendered administrators willing to accommodate the alien in their midst and to acknowledge the interconnections between military and civilian.
And finally, for the sake of completeness, I should also give a hat tip to Wayne Lee’s Review Essay in the most recent JMilH on three of Jeremy Black’s recent works: “Military History in a Global Frame.” [Insert your preferred joke about Black’s publishing fecundity here.]
When do we get our EMEMH bibliography aggregator?